Queen's current successful run of form (Stranraer game apart!) continued with this fine result against our "Border" rivals. Make no mistake about it. This game may have finished up close on paper but Queen's richly deserved their win against one of the division's form sides. Indeed, it would have been by an even bigger margin if they had taken more of their chances, particularly in the first half.
Not surprisingly, following last week's win at Forfar, John Connolly made no changes to the starting line-up. However, the substitute list saw a place for former Celtic, Portsmouth and Manchester City star, Gerry Creaney, as a Trialist in place of Dennis Boyle.
Following a minute's silence in memory of former Queen's great Alex Smith and former director Bill Murray, Queen's might well have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute. Berwick goalkeeper, Gary O'Connor, came right out to the edge of his box but got nowhere near a long cross ball and Warren Hawke was able to head the ball over him comfortably. However, he could only watch as the ball bounced agonisingly against the right upright and came back out. Jarrod Suddick managed to reach the rebound first but could only prod at the ball and it was cleared off the line.
The opening goal was not too long delayed however, and it came out of nothing. In the thirteenth minute, following a corner which was only partially cleared, the ball was looped back into the box. O'Connor seemed to be able to collect the ball comfortably enough but Andy Aitken went to challenge for the ball and was hauled down. The referee, Ian Fyfe, had no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick and Peter Weatherson placed the ball on the spot before coolly despatching the kick low to the left corner.
Three minutes later Jarrod Suddick (whose young nephew, Lewis, was the today's matchday mascot) almost doubled the lead with an opportunist effort. Paddy Atkinson played a low cross in from the left side which was deflected up. Suddick produced an overhead volley which looped over the 'keeper but landed on the roof of the net.
In the 33rd minute, another half cleared Kinnaird corner was played back into the penalty area and Paddy Atkinson volleyed it from the back post area with his right foot. His effort looped over O'Connor but was headed off the line for the "Wee Rangers" second goalline clearance of the game. However, straight away Berwick came so close to equalising. From the clearance, Darren Smith collected the ball on the edge of his own box and broke away down the left side. He left two or three defenders trailing in his wake before reaching David Mathieson's six yard box and cutting the ball back to the waiting Gary Wood. Wood side-footed the ball first time goalward only to watch in astonishment as Mathieson produced one of the best reaction saves I've ever seen to block the effort and parry it over the crossbar.
Berwick came close again in the 42nd minute. A corner bounced around the Queen's box a little before arriving at the back post. A combination of Pickering and Mathieson blocked the first effort but the rebound fell to the same player, who this time struck the outside of the post with his effort. A minute later, Ronnie McQuilter was booked for his third foul of the half and, from the resulting free-kick, Mathieson was again called on to twice make punched clearances under great pressure.
However, Queens bounced back to finish the half in great style. First, in the 44th minute, a wonderful flowing move involving Atkinson, Hawke, Pickering, Suddick and Kinnaird ended with the latter playing in a low cross which the sliding Peter Weatherson just failed to connect with at the back post with the empty goal gaping. Within the minute though the lead was doubled and this time it was John Sunderland who played in a fabulous cross. It was met in style by Peter Weatherson again and volleyed into the bottom right corner, continuing his fine recent scoring run.
The second half never lived up to the standards of the first and it took ten minutes before anything worth noting occurred. However, when it did, it was a goal for Berwick and, again, it seemed to come out of nothing. Gordon Forrest found himself in possession of the ball on the edge of the penalty area and evaded a couple of challenges before finishing into the top left corner of the net.
In truth, there were very few decent chances after this. Both sides used all three substitutes, Connolly introducing Nixon, Creaney and Muir in place of Sunderland, Suddick and Atkinson respectively. Peter Weatherson also picked up a second half booking for a tackle from behind. In the final minute, from a Queen's throw around the dug out area, Kinnaird played the ball to Creaney who played it on to Dean Muir. Muir strode forward before shooting narrowly wide from about twenty-five yards out.
Queen's held out comfortably enough though and moved up a place, above Arbroath, in the division. Next week sees a potentially very difficult away trip to Partick Thistle, the division's most in-form side. This will be a good test of how far we've come and how we now measure up to the best of the division.